Minaret Station, high in the mountains between Lakes Wakatipu and Wanaka, in the south of the South Island, has recently been named the Best Sporting Resort in the World for 2019 by American Airlines. And justifiably so.
We flew in to Minaret Station last year by helicopter (it’s the only way in unless you’re a mountain goat) and were treated to their fabulous Mountain Lunch. So remote even the air feels quiet, this alpine lodge sits in the middle of a sheltered valley surrounded by beautiful (often) snow-capped peaks. And from there, true to the award’s name, you can play and explore at will.
Heli-fishing for wily trout in season, heli-skiing in winter, heli-hiking in summer, heli-mountain biking, heli-almost everything, is the name of the game here. A top pick is a heli-trip to Fiordland, a gargantuan landscape that dwarfs a helicopter to the size of a mosquito. So you can access diverse and exciting options each day of your stay. Or wander the home valley on a network of boardwalks if you choose to stay close to the lodge.
Lunch was superb, based around all the bountiful wild and local foods available from the Otago and Fiordland regions – super fresh fish and produce, mountain-raised lamb, deep Otago red wines, and sweet local fruits.
Accommodation is in just four luxury chalets, each angled for that perfect view. The decor is robust – woollen mats (yes, New Zealand wool), possum fur throws, and textures and colours that echo the surrounding mountains and alpine grasslands. Each chalet has a hot tub on the deck, and there’s a good-sized dressing area for all that outdoor clothing you’ll be discarding at the end of the day. Then there’s just time to grab a local Otago pinot noir and retire to the deck to watch the sun sink low over the surrounding peaks before the lodge drops into its fabulous Dark Sky setting.